Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division

2015 ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry in Honor of Nikos Hadjichristidis

Nikos Hadjichristidis is the winner of the 2015 American
Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry.

 Nikos Hadjichristidis, Professor of Chemical Sciences at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, has envisioned and created unique macromolecular architectures that were not synthetically accessible before.  Among these are H- and pom-pom-shaped molecules, miktoarm stars (a term he coined), cyclic block copolymers, dendritic copolymers and diverse grafted copolymers.  Since he joined KAUST in 2011, he has extended his studies to the synthesis of polypeptides through living polymerization, opening the way to incorporating chiral domains into linear and branched block copolymers.  The methods that Professor Hadjichristidis has developed to synthesize these molecules are a product of his thoughtful experimentation and deep knowledge of synthetic organic chemistry.  His molecules are renowned for their structural purity because he goes beyond meticulous vacuum-line techniques to exhaustively fractionate and characterize his precisely designed macromolecules.

The well-defined nature of the polymers that Prof. Hadjichristidis creates using living anionic polymerization and validates using multiple methods enable definitive studies of the morphology and properties of topologically and compositionally complex polymers, making him a treasured collaborator in the polymer physics community.  Model polymers from the Hadjichristidis laboratory have been essential to seminal studies that include the dynamics of confined star polymers [Macromolecules, 1997]; demonstration of tri-continuous cubic phases in polymers [Macromolecules, 1997]; ordering transitions in melts of multi-arm star polymers [Euro Physics Letters, 1997]; development of nanorelief ceramics [Science, 1999]; discovery of laser patterning of polymer solutions [Science, 2002]; rheology of long chain branched polymers [Macromolecules 2002] and use of co-polypeptides for drug delivery [Biomacromolecules 2010].

After Nikos Hadjichristidis obtained his B.Sc. from the University of Athens in 1966, his Ph.D. (Polymer Physical Chemistry) from the University of Liège in 1971, he took his chemistry worldwide.  His doctoral research indeed created ties that brought him back as a Postdoctoral Fellow (1971-72) and as a Visiting Scientist (Summers 1974, 1975) in Liège.  His D.Sc. (Industrial Chemistry) from the University of Athens in 1979 paved the way for returning to the faculty in 1988. His Postdoctoral Fellowship with National Research Council of Canada (NRC, 1972-73) led to an invitation to return as a Visiting Researcher (Summer 1976) and as a Distinguished Visiting Scientist in 1983.  He was invited to spend many summers in the US, as a Visiting Scientist at the University of Akron (Summers 1977 through 1982) and at Exxon Research and Engineering Co, NJ since 1984.

In recognition of his many contributions to the University of Athens, he was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2010. He served as Director of the Industrial Chemistry Laboratory (1994-2010) and Chairman of the Chemistry Department (1991–1995, 1999-2003 and 2005-2009). As a leading scientist in Greece, he was on the National Advisory Research Council (1994-2007 and 2010-present); President of the State Highest Chemical Board (1995-2005), and Director of the Institute of ‘‘Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry’’ of the National Hellenic Research Foundation (2000-2001).

Professor Hadjichristidis is also widely hailed for his role in raising the level of polymer chemistry in Greece. Shortly after he was appointed to the University of Athens, he organized the undergraduate curriculum in polymer chemistry there in 1975, and a short time later he did the same for the graduate curriculum.  More than 60 students have been awarded Master’s degrees under his direction, and more than 50 others have received Ph.D. degrees. He has been the key figure in polymer chemistry in his native country for more than thirty years.

Professor Hadjichristidis has also been a leading advocate for polymer science in Europe.  He is a Founding Member and a Past President (1995-1996) of the European Polymer Federation. He is also the Founder and President of the Greek Polymer Society.  He plays an important role in shaping the direction and public perception of polymer science in Europe.

 Professor Hadjichristidis has significantly advanced the state of the art in polymer chemistry.  His papers have been referenced almost 20,000 times, earning him a notable h-index of 68.  A member of the editorial board of several polymer chemistry journals, he has published over 450 papers and 24 reviews. Professor Hadjichristidis authored a highly-cited monograph on block-copolymers, edited four books, and registered 19 patents. For his contributions to polymer chemistry he has received, among others, the following awards: Academy of Athens Award for Chemistry (1989), Empirikion Award for Sciences (1994), the Greek Chemists Association Award (2000), the ACS PMSE A. K. Doolittle Award (2003), the International Award of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan (SPSJ, 2007), the ACS PMSE Cooperative Research Award (2010) and the ACS, Rubber Division, Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award (2011). He was elected ACS PMSE Fellow in 2004 and ACS POLY in 2013. He was the “Ralph Milkovich” Memorial Lecturer for 2006 at the University of Akron. He has Honorary Degrees (Doctorate Honoris Causa) from the University Simon Bolivar, Caracas, Venezuela (2010) and the University of Ioannina, Greece (2010).

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